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David Bedein

map of the government withdrawal plan


DAVID BEDEIN, Dec 25, 2011

[This article was first published in the Jerusalem Post]

In March 2005, speaking about the dangers of the plan to withdraw the IDF from the Gaza Strip and part of northern Samaria, then-deputy minister of immigrant absorption Yuli Edelstein warned that the February 20, 2005 government decision applied not only to Gush Katif and four small Jewish communities in Samaria. Rather, he said the decision would be applied to redraw the areas of Jewish residency in almost all the areas that Israel acquired in the aftermath of the 1967 war.

At the time, a map of the government withdrawal plan was made available by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and is posted there to this day for all American government officials to peruse. But that map, which includes plans for the destruction of 63 Jewish communities and the eviction of thousands more Jews from their homes throughout Samaria, Judea, Hebron and the Jordan Valley, has never been posted or discussed in the Israeli public domain – not in the media, not by the Knesset and not by the current Israeli government.

Today, the government is once again dominated by representatives from the “national camp.” They say the current round of demolitions will focus only on getting rid of a a few “outposts” where issues of private Arab ownership have arisen. As a result, Likud voters in Ma’aleh Adumim, Efrat and the Jordan Valley are not too concerned about the greater picture of what the Israeli government has in mind.

That’s because they haven’t seen the map that was approved seven years ago and which potentially puts all these communities on the chopping block. In other words, there is no way of knowing whether the 2005 map represents official government policy today, whether the government plans to carry out its policy to retreat to the lines sketched in that map or whether the map has no meaning for the current government at all.

The move to hide the full extent of the retreat plans from the public was made after senior advisors to former prime minister Ariel Sharon assured Judea and Samaria leaders that the Gaza/Northern Samaria pullout plan would not be expanded to include the rest of Judea and Samaria. By hiding the details of the government-approved withdrawal map from the Israeli public, Sharon successfully prevented his wider plans from taking center stage on the national debate. In short, preventing public debate on the matter was Sharon’s way to ensure that his plans to “disengage” from Gaza in August 2005 would continue unabated.

Today, as then, it appears the government is trying to hide its true intentions. After all, the Israeli government could balance its policy of demolishing outposts where there is questionable land ownership by annexing all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria where no such questions of private land ownership have arisen. Or the government could make clear statements about the right of Israeli Jews to live in Judea and Samaria. But the government has done neither.

THE FOLLOWING fact should go without saying, but unfortunately bears repeating in the context of proposed retreats: The current issue at hand is not an offer of “territories for peace.” The Palestine Liberation Organization, and its political entity, the Palestinian Authority, remain in a state of war with the state of Israel.

In October, 1993 the left-wing Al Hamishmar newspaper reported that the PLO never ratified the Declaration of Principles which formed the basis of the Oslo accords. That led then-Meretz affiliated Prof. Yehoshua Porat to review the protocols of the Palestine National Council discussion of the PLO covenant, only to conclude that the PLO had not canceled its covenant as promised.

Today, the PLO and the PA make no secret of their continued advocacy of the armed struggle for the “right of return” as the slogan of the Palestinian Arab national entity.

In a situation where peace with the PA is not on the agenda, the people of Israel have a right to know if the government of Israel will implement or nullify an Israeli government decision from 2005 which involves further massive territorial concessions to a hostile entity.

In 2005, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was Israel’s finance minister. He knows the withdrawal map as well as Sharon did. The current situation brings to mind General Aharon Yariv, Israel’s first “land-for-peace” advocate. “Never confuse the concept of ‘territories for peace’ with being forced into a situation of ‘territories before peace,’” Yariv told me in 1988.

While it is impossible to force the media to cover an issue that challenges its near-unanimous view that Jews should be banned from Judea and Samaria, the same cannot be said for the government. As rumors continue to fly that a new round of “settlement” outposts are slated for demolition in the coming months, the public has a right to know just what the government’s plan is, and where it eventually plans to stop targeting Jewish civilians.

The writer is the director of the Israel Resource News Agency and the Center for Near East Policy Research and speical Israel correspondent for the Winnipeg Jewish Review.
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